Harvard vs. Georgetown: Detailed Comparison

Less than 100 US colleges and universities are considered elite. One of them is Harvard University, which is one of the eight Ivy League schools. The other is Georgetown University, which is one of the 63 Hidden Ivies.

Both Harvard and Georgetown are competitive institutions with high rankings and low acceptance rates. Their tuition and fees, $55,587 and $59,784, respectively, are not the cheapest. While Harvard has a bigger campus, Georgetown has more students. Both have a test-optional admissions policy.

Many dream of attending either Harvard or Georgetown. Unfortunately, only a few are able to turn it into a reality.

Continue reading if you wish to put Harvard University and Georgetown University on your list, but there is only one spot remaining. Below, we will talk about the things that make these prestigious schools alike and those that set them apart, too. After checking out this article, you will have a better idea of which one to shortlist.

Harvard vs. Georgetown: A Quick Comparison

Two of the most elite schools in the US are Harvard University and Georgetown University. Both schools are competitive and high rankers in various college rankings. It’s no wonder why many college-bound teens send applications to Harvard and Georgetown.

Alas, due to their selectivity levels, not everyone gets accepted into them.

It’s no secret that Harvard is an Ivy League school. As a matter of fact, it’s the number one Ivy League, given that it’s the number one higher education institution in the nation, according to many college ranking sites.

Georgetown University

Many students assume that Georgetown is an Ivy League school, too, like Harvard.

Unfortunately, it is not one of the eight Ivy Leagues. But the good news is that Georgetown University is considered a Hidden Ivy. The listing of Hidden Ivies first came out in the 2000 book The Hidden Ivies by Howard Greene and Matthew Green of Howard Greene & Associates, a US educational consulting firm.

Most of the Hidden Ivies are small liberal arts colleges. Some large research universities across the country. On the other hand, the Ivy Leagues are primarily located in the Northeast.

The following table is a quick comparison of Harvard and Georgetown:

LocationCambridge, MassachusettsGeorgetown, Washington, DC
Campus typeUrbanUrban
Campus size5,076 acres104 acres
Founding year16361789
School typePrivate research universityPrivate research university
ReputationNon-party schoolNon-party school
Number of majors5744
SelectivityHighly selectiveSelective
Acceptance rate4.60%14.40%
Yield rate82%44%
Retention rate97%96%
Graduation rate97.30%94.30%
Tuition and fees (2021 to 2022)$51,143$59,784
Number of students5,2277,513
Average class size12>20
Student-to-faculty ratio6:0111:01
ColorCrimsonBlue and gray
MascotJohn Harvard the PilgrimJack the Bulldog
Number of varsity teams4226
Athletic affiliationNCAA Division INCAA Division I

As you can see, although both Harvard University and Georgetown University are often mentioned when prestigious US schools are being talked about, there are many things that set these popular institutions apart.

Related Article: Georgetown University: Review and Campus Visit

Harvard and Georgetown Rankings

In the 2021 Best National Universities by US News, Harvard University is number two. The same college ranking puts Georgetown University at number 23. In the 2021 Best Colleges in America by Niche, Harvard is number two, with an A+ grade. On the other hand, Georgetown is number 24, with an A+ grade.

Checking out college rankings by popular and reliable college ranking sites is a quick way to figure out which school should go where on your list of colleges and universities to apply to.

There is no denying that one of the most trusted college ranking sites out there is US News.

Harvard University appears in numerous 2021 rankings by US News.

Let’s take a quick look at the various rankings (besides Best National Universities) where the Ivy League is mentioned as well as its positions:

  • Best Value Schools – number 1
  • Best Undergraduate Teaching – number 12 (tie with Georgetown, Vanderbilt and Yale)
  • Most Innovative Schools – number 20 (tie with Brown University)

Like Harvard, Georgetown University is also mentioned in many US News 2021 college rankings. The following are the different categories (except Best National Universities) and the school’s position in each one of them:

  • Best College for Veterans – number 7
  • Best Undergraduate Teaching – number 12 (tie with Harvard, Vanderbilt and Yale)
  • Best Value Schools – number 29
  • Most Innovative Schools – number 35 (tie with American University, Virginia Tech, etc.)
  • Top Performers on Social Mobility – 284

It’s important to note that you should not choose between Harvard and Georgetown based solely on the rankings by US News and other equally reliable college ranking sites.

That’s because college rankings can be subjective — different college ranking sites use different criteria when ranking schools, and they have different views on which criteria should carry more weight.

In the end, the best school of the bunch is the one that meets your personal preferences and can help you meet your specific career goal.

Related Article: How Many People Get Into Harvard?

Which School is Harder to Get Into: Harvard or Georgetown?

Harvard University is an Ivy League school. It isn’t surprising why it’s harder to get into than Georgetown University. However, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to get into Georgetown. Since it’s a competitive school, the Washington, DC-based school’s acceptance rate is lower than most institutions.

Prestigious colleges and universities are some of the most selective on the planet. Due to this, they tend to have acceptance rates so much lower than 68%, which is the average acceptance rate among schools ranked by US News.

Based on that figure, most higher education institutions accept the majority of applicants. It’s a completely different story when it comes to competitive schools — they usually accept just a small fraction of applying students.

Case in point: Harvard University and Georgetown University have low acceptance rates of 4.6% and 14.4%, respectively.

Here are the top 10 schools in Massachusetts, including Harvard, that are the hardest to get into:

Hampshire College1.97%
Harvard University4.60%
Blue Hills Regional Technical School5.88%
Amherst College11.31%
Williams College12.60%
Tufts University14.95%
Olin College of Engineering15.69%
Northeastern University18.05%
Boston University26.78%

Now, let’s check out the acceptance rates at different Washington, DC schools, including Georgetown:

Georgetown University14.40%
American University36.08%
Howard University36.08%
American University36.10%
George Washington University40.84%
Strayer University58%
Gallaudet University61.22%
University of the District of Columbia74%
The Catholic University of America85.36%
Trinity Washington University96.69

Based on the table above, Harvard University is the second hardest school to get into in Massachusetts, while Georgetown is the hardest school to get into in Washington, DC area.

Related Article: Getting Into Harvard With Low GPA

Harvard and Georgetown GPA Comparison

To receive an acceptance letter from Harvard University, applicants should have a GPA of 4.0 at least. Students applying to Georgetown should have a minimum GPA of 3.89. Someone with a lower GPA should have a strong overall application for increased chances of getting accepted into either school.

Research shows that a student’s GPA is the best predictor of his or her likelihood to succeed in college.

Because of this, the GPA is one of the most important factors considered by admissions officers when deciding. This is especially true for those at competitive institutions that have set minimum GPA requirements.

But just because your GPA is a few points lower than your dream school’s preference doesn’t mean you should skip applying to it. Many colleges and universities have a holistic admissions process.

As the name suggests, the admissions officers consider the entire applicant and not just his or her high school grades and other numerical measures.

Since both Harvard and Georgetown are competitive schools committed to a holistic admissions process, they will consider other pieces of information on your applicant besides your GPA.

Here are the things that Harvard’s admissions officers take into account in the admissions process:

  • Knowledge of the university
  • Demonstrated interest
  • High GPA
  • Impressive SAT or ACT score
  • Contributions to the high school and community
  • Unique characteristics
  • Clear career goals
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Winning supplemental essays

The following are the admissions process factors Georgetown’s admissions officers consider:

  • High GPA
  • Great SAT or ACT score
  • Remarkable recommendation letters
  • Winning personal essays
  • Passion for one’s chosen major
  • Leadership skills
  • Social skills
  • Extracurricular activities
harvard university

Do Harvard and Georgetown Require SAT or ACT Scores?

Before, both Harvard University and Georgetown University required applicants to submit test scores as they are admissions process factors. However, currently, they have a test-optional admissions policy. This means that they allow applicants to decide if they will submit their test scores or not.

A lot of students with low SAT or ACT scores tend to stay away from top-notch colleges and universities as their test scores might lower their chances of gaining admission into them.

Fortunately for those who are unhappy with the results of their SAT or ACT, more and more higher education institutions in the US are going test-optional — test score submission is not mandatory (at the time of writing).

So, in other words, if you are applying to them, it’s completely up to you to decide whether or not you will provide your SAT or ACT score.

Submitted test scores will be taken into account in the admissions process. On the other hand, those who choose to keep their SAT or ACT scores to themselves will neither be disadvantaged in the admissions process nor asked by the admissions officers why they have chosen not to submit their test scores.

Because Harvard and Georgetown have a test-optional admissions process, you may or may not reveal your SAT or ACT score when applying to any one of these well-known competitive institutions.

But just to give you an idea of their selectivity levels, check out the following:

Harvard University1460 to 158033 to 35
Georgetown University1450 to 153031 to 34
Harvard vs. Georgetown

Prior to becoming a test-optional school, Harvard superscored SAT scores. This means that its admissions officers took into account only the highest SAT section scores across all test dates and added them up.

However, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ivy League did not superscore ACT scores.

On the other hand, Georgetown superscored both SAT and ACT scores before becoming test-optional.

If you want to impress the admissions officers at Harvard or Georgetown, consider submitting your test score. This is especially true if you are happy with them.

This will help you prove that you are college-ready, which is the main reason why most colleges and universities require applicants to submit their SAT or ACT scores.

And if you took the SAT or ACT more than once, it’s a good idea to submit your scores from various test dates since both Harvard University and Georgetown University superscore test scores (except the ACT at Harvard).

How Much Does It Cost to Go to Harvard and Georgetown?

For the academic year 2021 to 2022, the tuition and fees at Harvard University cost $55,587. On the other hand, for the same year, the tuition and fees at Georgetown University equal $59,784. The average tuition and fees at private institutions cost $37,200 for the academic year 2021 to 2022.

Besides the above-average requirements, there is something else that keeps many students from applying to elite colleges and universities. And it’s none other than the steep sticker price.

Since both Harvard and Georgetown are some of the most prestigious schools in the nation, it goes without saying that attending them is harder on the pocket than going to an average public institution.

But between the two elite schools, Georgetown appears more often on listings of the most expensive schools in the US than Harvard.

Here’s a breakdown of the estimated cost of being a Harvard student for the academic year 2021 to 2022:

Harvard University Cost of Attendance

And now, here’s the breakdown of the estimated cost of attending Georgetown for the same academic year:

Georgetown University Cost of Attendance

To help make earning a degree accessible to all, particularly students from low-income backgrounds, both Harvard University and Georgetown University offer financial aid packages.

According to Harvard, around 70% of its students receive some form of financial aid, and that those whose parents make less than $65,000 a year are not expected to contribute any funds.

Related Article: Is a Harvard Degree Worth It?

It’s important to note that the school does not offer merit-based and athletic scholarships. It offers need-based scholarships only.

On the other hand, up to 45% of students at Georgetown University receive need-based scholarships. The average amount that awardees (first-year students) receive is $45,509.

Harvard and Georgetown Offer Early Decisions

Harvard University does not offer Early Decision (ED). What it offers is Restrictive Early Action (REA), which is not being offered by a lot of colleges and universities. On the other hand, Georgetown University offers two ED rounds. The school also has Single-Choice Early Action (SCEA).

Earlier, we talked about the GPA requirement at Harvard. During the discussion, we mentioned some of the things that the school’s admissions officers look for in applying students. Demonstrated interest was one of them.

Nothing lets you exhibit demonstrated interest and increase your chances of getting accepted into the institution of your dreams more than applying to it earlier than everyone else. Most colleges and universities in the US offer ED. As a matter of fact, some of them offer two rounds — ED I and ED II.

Unfortunately, Harvard does not offer ED. But the good news is that it has REA.

It’s just like ED, but it’s non-binding. This means that you won’t be penalized for choosing a different college after getting an acceptance letter from Harvard. The deadline for applying REA is November 1, and applicants will hear from the school by mid-December.

Georgetown, unlike Harvard, offers two rounds of ED. It’s important to note that both ED I and ED II are binding, which means that you are expected to attend the school if it accepts you.

Besides ED I and ED II and Regular Decision (RD), Georgetown University offers other decision plans. There’s Early Action (EA) that allows applicants to hear from the school in December.

Since EA is not binding like ED, accepted students can choose to go to another school. They have until May 1 to make up their minds and notify Georgetown.

Then there’s also Single-Choice Early Action (SCEA). While SCEA is non-binding like EA, applicants who choose this decision plan are not allowed to apply to other schools early, although they may apply RD.

Just Before You Apply to Harvard or Georgetown

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Georgetown University in Georgetown, Washington, DC may be more than 400 miles away from each other.

However, there are many things that make them end up being compared to one another. For instance, both of them have low acceptance rates and high retention and graduation rates.

These schools are Ivies — one is an Ivy League, and the other is a Hidden Ivy.

Above, we talked about some of the most important matters you need to know about Harvard and Georgetown, from their selectivity levels, tuition and fees to decision plans.

Take your time when choosing which prestigious school you should apply to for the best possible college experience and career after graduation.

Related Article: Getting a Full-Ride Scholarship to Harvard, Princeton, or Yale

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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